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Monday, May 16, 2011

Tiger Woods golf course plans have Asheville newspaper tied in knots

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        It is hard to keep track of the plans to restart construction of the Tiger Woods designed golf course at High Carolina, the struggling Cliffs

The developer's excuse for the hold up in construction "sounds as flimsy as Tiger's apologies for fooling around.”

community in the mountains of western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina.  The paper of record in nearby Asheville, NC, certainly isn’t helping.

        Last Wednesday, the Asheville Citizen-Times’ Keith Jarrett, who has followed The Cliffs closely over recent years, filed a critical piece under the headline, “Golf Course on Hold at Cliffs at High Carolina.”  Then on Saturday, at the paper’s online edition, a piece written by David Dykes appeared under the headline, “Developer: Tiger Woods Cliffs Project Still on Track in Asheville Area”; the latter story served up the yin to the earlier piece’s yang.

        Although we would like to believe in an independent press, we can’t help thinking that, in the days after Jarrett’s article, Mr. Anthony and his handlers may have reminded the Citizen-Times’ executives of the magnitude of the Cliffs’ advertising budget.  At the height of their success, before the housing market tanked, the Cliffs spent as much as $14 million annually on marketing.

        The Citizen-Times seems as confused as the rest of us about the status of The Cliffs’ highest profile unfinished project.  In February,

At various times, the developer has indicated construction on the Tiger Woods course was on indefinite hold, ready to go in April, and ready to go "by the summer."

Mr. Anthony told the newspaper that construction, which had been halted late last year, would start again at High Carolina in April.  This came a day or two after one of Anthony’s top executives indicated construction was on indefinite hold and months after a loan agreement with residents stipulated that slow property sales at High Carolina would cause a stoppage in construction.  The Cliffs has sold virtually no properties at High Carolina since Tiger Woods’ now infamous Thanksgiving night automobile incident and subsequent bimbo eruptions late last year.  Woods’ fall-off in tournament play and consequent lack of airtime hasn’t helped marketing efforts either.

        After the optimistic tone Anthony set in February, April came and went, and during a TV interview last week, the developer implied that construction was on indefinite hold, later amplified by Keith Jarrett’s Citizen-Times column that characterized the developer’s explanation of the stoppage as “the dog ate my homework.”

        “Anthony's comments that concentrating on getting a Gary Player design in South Carolina up and running by this fall is taking away from High Carolina construction,” Jarrett wrote, “sounds as flimsy as Tiger's apologies for fooling around.”

        But then a few days later, in the online edition of the Citizen-Times, reporter Dykes writes that Mr. Anthony indicated construction would start “by this summer.” (words from the article, but not directly attributed to Mr. Anthony).  The developer, however, is quoted in the online article as saying the work stoppage at High Carolina was “technically on hold,” whatever that means.

        Uncertainty makes markets nervous.  The Cliffs needs to assure its market of potential buyers and the Asheville community that it is organized and has a plan.  It can start by getting its story straight about High Carolina.

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Larry Gavrich

This blog was conceived and is published by me, Larry Gavrich, a former corporate communications executive who founded HomeOnTheCourse, LLC, in 2005.  Our firm advises baby boomers and others seeking a lifestyle in which golf is a major component.  My wife Connie and I own a home in Connecticut (not on a golf course) and a condo at Pawleys Plantation in Pawleys Island, SC, on a Jack Nicklaus layout.  We began our search for our home on the course more than 15 years ago, and the challenges of the search inspired me to research golf communities and write objective reviews of them.


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